(Welcome to A Different Point of View, a column where we explore the supporting characters of the Star Wars universe and discuss why they deserve more time in the spotlight.)

Star Wars, at its core, is a family story about generations of the Skywalker family. Or, at least it used to be. But now that Lucasfilm is under the Disney umbrella, a wider audience is being exposed to the variety of stories that can exist in a galaxy far, far away. Those stories can include characters that would otherwise have been left in the background or as dangling plot threads never to be expanded upon. In this bi-weekly column, I’ll be choosing one Star Wars character to raise into the spotlight and make my case on why they deserve to stand on their own.

For the inaugural column, I chose a woman that is so new to the Star Wars canon that she still has “New Character Smell.” Qi’ra. Like Madonna or Cher. She only has one name. Let’s dive in, shall we?

solo tv spot

WHO IS SHE?

Qi’ra [Last Name Unknown] grew up in the slums of the Core World planet known as Corellia. If that name is familiar to you, it’s because it’s also the home planet of Han Solo. But we’ll get back to him in a minute. Born 31 years before the Battle of Yavin in Star Wars: A New Hope, Qi’ra survived her childhood by her wits and her skills as a thief. Picked up by a gang known as the White Worms, Qi’ra rose through the ranks. By the time she was 18, she’d proven her loyalty to the White Worms so thoroughly that the leader Lady Proxima declared her the “Head” or equivalent of First Mate.

Life in a petty street gang wears thin after a while though. Teaming up with her lover Han Solo, they attempt to escape from the White Worms. But after the plan falls apart, Qi’ra is left alone on Corellia to face the wrath of her mistress. The next few years of Qi’ra’s life are a mystery. When she next resurfaces in the lore, it’s again as the right hand of a powerful crime lord. This time Qi’ra does dirty work for Dryden Vos, the face of the Crimson Dawn syndicate. No longer a big fish in a small pond, Qi’ra is now a medium-fish in the galactic underworld ocean.

Armed only with her brilliant tactical mind and her skill with a blade, Qi’ra holds her own in a galaxy rife with Force-users. In fact, by the end of her current known whereabouts, Qir’a has risen to become the second most powerful person in the Crimson Dawn, answering only to the Maul. Yes. That Darth Maul.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

WHEN WAS SHE INTRODUCED?

Played by Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones, Terminator: Genisys), Qi’ra made her grand entrance into the world in 2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story. Ostensibly Han Solo’s first great love, and the template upon which he would base his attraction to future lovers, Qi’ra proved herself to be feisty, capable, and more than a touch coldly pragmatic. She is a true morally grey woman rising through grit, determination, and shoving her adorable boyfriend from street-rat high school out of harm’s way at the expense of his ego.

forces of destiny qi'ra

WHY SHE’S FASCINATING

For decades, Star Wars skated past the shady underbelly of its own lore. Sure, the Hutt cartels were out there, forcing humanoid women into scantily-clad bikinis, which is super confusing because are humanoid women even sexually attractive to literal slug-people? And yes, the now defunct Expanded Universe (EU) dove headfirst into the world of slicer (hackers) and other sordid professions. But for the most part, Star Wars has steered clear of anything without a Jedi front-and-center.

But now all of that is changing. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story focused on the ground troops that sacrificed themselves to make the galaxy free of Space Nazis. Star Wars: The Last Jedi took a divisive detour into the luxury world of arms dealers growing fat off never-ending war. And Solo cracked open the door to the world of Star Wars crime lords. By the end of Solo, Alden Ehrenreich’s version of Han is well on his way towards meeting a farm boy and an old man in a bar on Tatooine. His story is set in stone. But Qi’ra? She’s a dangling thread of infinite possibilities.

In writing narratives that may one day become part of a larger tapestry of lore, there’s a practice known as leaving hooks all over the story. Maybe one day they’ll get expanded upon or maybe they’ll be left open for all eternity. Solo leaves several of these around for future Qi’ra stories. We know from the extended novelization of Solo: A Star Wars Story by Mur Lafferty that Lady Proxima, the leader of the White Worms has a soft spot for Qi’ra, which is why she ends up sold into slavery and not tortured and murdered as a warning to other would-be escape artists. We vaguely know her unnamed slaver sells her to Dryden Vos because he can’t break Qi’ra’s spirit. We know she doesn’t break under Vos, forcing him to see her in a new light. Qi’ra is able to bootstrap her way off Corellia and into the wider world. We know she tamped down any lingering moral quandaries about her life in order to not only survive, but thrive. Qi’ra was living her best life until Han showed up to cloud her judgment with feelings.

Perhaps most importantly, to me, is we know Qir’a uses a fighting style called Teräs Käsi. Originally part of the EU, the style was introduced in the 1996 novel Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire. It became even more ingrained in the fandom when the Teräs Käsi style showed up in the 1997 fighting game of the same name. Now a household name among those nerdy enough to learn the history of fictional universes, Teräs Käsi was given an origin story. It was created by a group of people specifically to give those without Force powers a fighting chance against Jedi Knights. It would later show up in an EU novel as the fighting style of Darth Maul. So, you can see where I’m going with this. Qi’ra was taught a style of fighting that is designed to defeat Jedi. And Sith.

Qi'ra

WHAT STORIES COULD LUCASFILM TELL?

There are so many aspects of Qi’ra’s life that are ripe for a novelization or comic. First, there’s her rise to power under Dryden Vos. In Solo, audiences see Qi’ra as a Corellian orphan and then not again until she’s a polished underworld mini-boss. There are several years of potential to mine there. We have no idea how long Qi’ra was entangled with the Crimson Dawn as a slave or how long it took before she became Vos’ property. How long did it take Qi’ra to use her charms on Dryden after he promoted her to the rank of criminal minion? When did she learn who the true power behind the Crimson Dawn was? What made her want to learn Teräs Käsi? How does she feel about the Jedi? The Sith? The Hutts?

Then, of course, there’s her meteoric rise to power. Qi’ra becomes the face of the Crimson Dawn during one of the most volatile moments in the Star Wars universe. How does that affect how she runs her business? What is her relationship with Maul like? Once he meets his ultimate fate at the hands of Obi-Wan, what is the fallout? Does Qi’ra take over ease or is there a power struggle? Exactly how much of Han Solo’s “luck” can be attributed to his first girlfriend having a soft spot for him and threatening any who would take his life? That’s right, you heard me. I’m convinced Qi’ra at the very least helped finance and do reconnaissance for Luke’s little infiltration of Jabba the Hutt’s palace.

Assuming she doesn’t die during any of the intrigues that surely beset the leader of a galaxy-spanning crime organization, there’s even a good possibility Qi’ra is still alive during the new films. What does a woman who survived the criminal underworld that long behave like? What view does she take of the galaxy? Is Qi’ra still a calculating pragmatist or did the decades sway her in one direction or another? Would Lando Calrissian reach out to her in the Resistance’s time of need? Or did the Dark Side leave its mark on her with each morally questionable choice?

These are all questions worth answering.

Lucasfilm has been doing fantastic things lately with their YA novelizations starring female characters. Ahsoka Tano, Jyn Erso, Rose Tico, and Padme Amidala have all gotten to star in their own all-ages stories. But, like Phasma before her, I feel Qi’ra is different. If Lucasfilm wants to use her as the opening salvo into the criminal underworld, it’d be easier to do it as an adult novel. Or, if they wanted to get crazy, a comic book showcasing the decadence of the ethically impaired instead of a quick drive-by in The Last Jedi.

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What do you guys think? What parts of Qi’ra’s life would like to know more about? Let us know in the comments!

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